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Not Seeing Eye To Eye, Part 5

, , , , , | Healthy | May 10, 2021

I’m a technician at a local eye clinic. I call back a new patient. I get his history and find out he’s diabetic and uses scleral lenses — the kind that covers the entire eye. Diabetes can wreak havoc on the eyes if not controlled.

Me: “What brings you here?”

Patient: “I’ve had pain in both my eyes the past two weeks.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I see you wear sclerals. How long have you been using them?”

Patient: “Oh, these are about ten years old. They’re in great shape!”

Me: “Oooookay? How long per day do you wear them?”

Patient: “Oh, I don’t take ‘em out! They’re so comfortable and I forget they’re there!”

My eyes instantly start to hurt for him, but I continue.

Me: “So… how long have these been in your eye?”

Patient: “About two months!”

Me: “So, you haven’t cleaned them or taken them out of your eye in two months?!”

Patient: “Nope. It’s not my contacts that are bothering me, though. My eyes just hurt.”

Me: “Okay… and you’re diabetic, correct? What’s your blood sugar usually run?”

Patient: “I don’t know; I rarely check. Like 400 something?”

I’m almost speechless but I continue.

Me: “Well, we need to take the contacts out so the doctor can look at your eye.”

Patient: “Do we have to? Taking them out will make my eyes hurt more.”

Me: “Yes. Yes, we do.”

The patient takes his lenses out. They are covered with dirt and build-up to where the lens is a milky grey color rather than clear. I look at the patient’s eyes and they are beet red and swollen. Finally, the doctor comes in after I tell him what’s going on.

Doctor: “Let’s take a look.”

After examining the patient, the doctor can see two huge corneal ulcers exacerbated by uncontrolled diabetes from extended lens wear causing the pain. The doctor explains that these are serious and can lead to permanent scarring which can be irreversible.

Doctor: “These are serious. You need to keep your lenses out to let the eyes heal.”

Patient: “No.”

Doctor: “No?”

Patient: “I’m gonna keep wearing my lenses.”

Doctor: “You really shouldn’t. If this infection doesn’t heal, you can be left with scars or could possibly develop into something much worse and lose the eye.”

Patient: “I don’t care. Give me my lenses.”

Doctor: “My tech has them. She’s finishing cleaning them for you.”

Patient: “Why in the h*** would you clean them?! They were fine!”

Doctor: “Sir, I can’t let you wear these in good conscience knowing it’ll make the problem worse.”

Patient: “F*** y’all! I’m going somewhere else where they know what they’re talking about. These contacts didn’t do anything to my eyes!”

He left with his contacts. We thoroughly documented the encounter and went on about our business.

A month later, he came back threatening to sue our company because he claimed we told him he could continue his lens use and never gave him any treatment for his condition — he left before we could — and now he had a pretty significant corneal scar in both eyes and would require a transplant. My doctor simply printed out the exam notes for him and told him he’d love to see him try. Harsh on my doctor’s part maybe, but don’t fight the people trying to help you!

Not Seeing Eye To Eye, Part 4
Not Seeing Eye To Eye, Part 3
Not Seeing Eye To Eye, Part 2
Not Seeing Eye To Eye

This story is part of the Eye Exam roundup!

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